Direct Dialogue With The DNC: You Also Deny Climate Science
Last week I had the opportunity to address the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) platform committee in Phoenix, Arizona. Tens of thousands of us have been petitioning the DNC and their Republican counterparts to include a ban on fracking, and a move to #KeepItInTheGround in this year’s platforms.
Phoenix was the second city in two weeks to hear testimony from invited guests and experts as part of the platform drafting process for the Democratic Party. According to party leaders it’s their desire to “make this year’s platform process the most representative and inclusive in history.” This hearing focussed on climate change and the environment, specifically what Democrats must include in their platform to show voters, the county and the world that they are serious about #ActingOnClimate.
I was pleased to be joined by some of the best climate warriors in the country including, WE ACT For Environmental Justice, Executive Director, Peggy Shepard, Green for All Director, Vien Truong and Friends of the Earth President, Erich Picah.
Prior to my testimony, we heard amazing testimony from Josh Fox about why Democrats need to call for a national ban on fracking as part any platform to address climate change. And, National Nurses United Executive Director, RoseAnn Demoro, discussed the need for guaranteed health care for all due to increased impacts of global warming like air pollution, infectious diseases like Zika and more.
My testimony focused on the need to keep fossil fuels in the ground by banning all new offshore (and onshore) drilling and fracking in the United States. I specifically discussed the impacts of offshore drilling on the Gulf Coast, one of the most climate-vulnerable and environmentally-damaged regions in our nation. The Gulf is one of, if not THE preferred sacrifice zone of the USA, and not just because of the fossil fuel industry. Our own climate and environmental movement has participated in what I referred to as an, “iniquitous transmission of urgency.” That is to say, while there has been so much discussion about the impacts of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM)’s proposed 5-Year leased for offshore drilling on the Arctic region, but less urgency and attention has been given to the Gulf region. This despite the fact that 75% of the new drilling BOEM proposes is in the Gulf, and the fact that there was an actual 90,000 gallon oil spill in the Gulf WHILE BOEM was seeking public comment on their “drill more now” plan. The treatment of the Gulf by the fossil fuel industry, their government and, in too many cases by the same climate and environmental movement that’s supposed to be fighting them, proves that climate disruption is also a system of oppression that cannot be addressed without addressing all forms of justice.
I also used my time to inform the platform committee that the Gulf has been let down before by congressional Democrats, reminding them that they allowed the crude oil export ban to be lifted DURING the Global Climate Summit in Paris, COP21, where we were working to complete an global agreement. Therefore, I told the committee, climate denial is not limited to GOP boogeymen like James “Snowball” Inhofe or Ted Cruz. Because when the Democrats vote to lift the ban on crude oil exports, continue fracking and to expand offshore drilling they too are denying the science of climate change.
Following my testimony I had a spirited exchange with our good friend and 350.org co-founder, Bill McKibben, who is one the platform committee members. For me, the highlight came when I had a back and forth discussion with one of my favorite thinkers, Dr. Cornell West. Dr. West agreed that we don’t treat people equally when it comes to climate change and agreed that we must do more to amplify the struggles of Native Americans. He further agreed that free trade agreements, like the TPP, are antithetical to acting on climate change and that corporate power in our politics and our media are at the root of many of our problems with pollution and injustice.
On behalf of all our members at Environmental Action, I was excited by this opportunity to highlight the type of radical action we must take to address humanity’s greatest challenge. It was also a great chance to discuss the climate change from a justice standpoint and to showcase the injustice suffered by our Gulf Coast friends and fellow climate champions. Democrats are on now on notice that young people and core voters, including voters of color, demand aggressive action on climate change. And they know that the people affected “first and worst” by climate change are key voting bloc who will no longer be ignored.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll look for more opportunities to present your petition signatures and our call to Keep fossil fuels in the ground to both parties (Including the somewhat more *ahem* private RNC). We’ll also continue working with our sisters and brothers in the Gulf as they fight the fossil fuel empire in all forms and with offshore drilling in particular. Click here to support our continuing work in the Gulf region, and you can view my full testimony, including questions and answers by clicking on the image above.